New Braemor Studies book on Christian–Muslim engagement in the Church of Ireland to be launched on 14th March
A new book published by Church of Ireland Publishing (CIP) and the eighth in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute’s ‘Braemor Studies’ series is to be launched by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, on Wednesday 14th March at 6.00pm at CITI. The new title is written by the Revd Suzanne Cousins and is entitled Generous Love in Multi–faith Ireland: Towards mature citizenship and a positive pedagogy for the Church of Ireland in local Christian–Muslim mission and engagement. In keeping with the inter–faith theme of her book, an invitation was extended to Shaykh Dr Umar Al–Qadri, the Head–Imam of Al–Mustafa Islamic Education & Cultural Centre Ireland, to attend the launch, which he has graciously accepted.
In the words of the author, ‘the aim behind the book was to identify hindrances to Christian–Muslim engagement in Church of Ireland parishes and dioceses, with a view to stimulating the future development of a contextualised teaching resource on Christian–Muslim engagement for use by clergy and laity in the Church’s changing mission context. The envisioned pedagogy is a practical, Bible–based resource, in which all members of the Church can be confident, enabling the Church to have a positive praxis of intentional presence, generous engagement, witness and service towards its Muslim neighbours.’
The work is grounded in the theologies of Generous Love and Presence and Engagement, identified through the three theological strands undertaken in the project: Biblical, Systematic, and Pastoral. The central themes are the theologies of the kindness of God, friendship, hospitality, pardon and embrace, superabundance and gift – evident in the Trinity, Incarnation, Cross, and the Eucharist. These themes are supported by the work of Jürgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf, Paul Ricoeur and Janet Soskice.
The book straddles the fields of Missiology and History of Religions, and is influenced by Moltmann’s Theology of Hope, Volf’s Theology of Embrace, and by the biblical hermeneutics and theological ethics of Ricoeur (inhabiting the text, equivalence, superabundance and economy of gift). It reflects on the creative approach of the fourth century saint, Ephrem the Syrian, to interpreting Scripture and teaching orthodoxy. The question of the oneness and plurality of God as a theological concern for some Christians is explored, and whether the referents ‘God’ and ‘Allah’ are to the same God though differently understood is discussed, along with the contribution of Volf and others to this debate. In addition, the theology and eirenic praxis of Christians who engaged with Muslims in the early Islamic world, including Francis of Assisi, are examined, while the desire of present day Christians to be faithful in their allegiance to Jesus Christ, to his uniqueness, divinity, and status and identity as Lord, while engaging locally in Christian–Muslim encounter, is also explored. Finally the book identifies theological and pastoral challenges and concerns for clergy assisting their parishioners in everyday Christian–Muslim relationships.
Generous Love in Multi–faith Ireland will be available for sale at the launch and thereafter through the Church of Ireland’s online bookstore at https://store.ireland.anglican.org/store/product/142/generous-love-in-multifaith-ireland and through the Book Well in Belfast for €6/£5.